Tiered Triumphs

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How Pipp Horticulture provided a mobile solution for Fog City Farms’ vertical cultivation operation.

June 2, 2022

When Fog City Farms was awarded one of California’s first adult-use cultivation licenses in 2016, Co-Founder and CEO James Cunningham knew his journey had just begun.

Cunningham, with 17 years of experience as a cannabis grower, says one of the first considerations he made when designing Fog City Farms’ vertical farming operation was to find the right mobile racking solution.

“Mobile racking was something we realized was going to be a necessity after mapping out the space with two-tier static racking. We quickly realized that you can actually get more canopy on a single-tier of mobile racking in any one space than you can with two-tiers static racking because of accessibility issues” Cunningham says.

Shortly after Fog City Farms was awarded its cultivation license, in 2017, Cunningham’s partner, Kelly Hyland, suggested Pipp Mobile Storage Systems as a potential equipment partner for Fog City Farms.

“We contacted Pipp and very quickly we were meeting in Oakland and strategizing on building our first showroom, essentially,” Cunningham says. “We put our heads together and developed the first-ever Pipp install at Fog City Farms.”

Along that path of partnering with Pipp and building out Fog City Farms’ vertical farming operation, Cunningham says he realized the challenge of equally supplying and distributing airflow across the tiers.

In response, Cunningham and his team developed Vertical Air Solutions (VAS), which he says was the first-ever solution for industrial airflow in vertical farming. VAS’ (now patented) air circulation system was designed to provide air circulation, filtration, CO2 delivery, and environmental control at Fog City Farms.

As Vertical Air Solutions established its foothold in the market, the company was eventually acquired by Pipp in December 2020. Since then, Cunningham says Pipp has provided VAS – now a division of Pipp Horticulture – with a wealth of engineering, branding, marketing, and sales expertise.

“It very quickly became apparent that it would be good to get support from a larger machine that was used to global equipment manufacturing and sales at large scale, and branding and marketing in the equipment space,” Cunningham says. “Because of our close relationship with Pipp, it made perfect sense for us to just make that official and join them. And since we have, it has definitely proven to be one of the larger factors in us leading in this space over the past couple of years.”

In addition, Cunningham says Fog City Farms’ longstanding partnership with Pipp has continued to reap benefits for his West Coast cultivation.

“We have a great racking partner that has developed a very reliable platform. We are the first-ever Pipp install, and our racks are still working like they did the day they were installed. We’re five years in at this point, almost,” Cunningham says. “[As a cultivator], you’re looking for a reliable equipment partner because, in the horticultural space, many times equipment isn’t as reliable or durable as this racking system is.”

As Cunningham looks ahead to the future, he’s optimistic and excited about the potential of his continued partnership with Pipp.

“You could expect us to continue to advance in the space and to produce new technologies, whether it be in airflow for multi-tier farming applications or dry room applications or any piece of the farm,” he says. “We’re looking at different advancements in how to create consistent environments throughout the space and continuing our focus on innovation while providing top-tier solutions for the vertical farming industry.”